Saturday, August 04, 2007

Perspective: America's might in flight proves critical

Above: A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, its wings swept forward, returns to an undisclosed airfield in Southwest Asia after completing a close air support mission in Iraq in May.

Washington is buzzing with talk about withdrawing U.S. military forces from Iraq, but nobody seems to have told the United States Air Force. Far from packing their duffel bags, America's air warriors appear to be planning a long stay in Iraq.

Why else would the USAF be expanding its air bases in Iraq, including lengthening a second 11,000-foot runway at Balad Airbase, its nerve centre for Iraq operations? Washington hopes to retain control of oil-rich Iraq by using American air power and native troops -- the same formula employed by the British Empire.

The U.S. Air Force recently moved new squadrons of advanced F-16Cs and A-10 ground attack aircraft to Iraq. Powerful B-1B heavy bombers have been repositioned from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the Gulf, an hour flying from central Iraq.

The $220 million B-1s, built to attack the Soviet Union, carry up to 41,000 lbs. of bombs. Their deadly accurate GPS-guided 500-lb and 1,000-lb bombs have inflicted heavy casualties on resistance fighters and, inevitably, civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Without U.S. fighters, B1 and B-52 heavy bombers, and AC-130 gunships flying top cover, over-stretched U.S. infantry in Iraq and U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan would face defeat.

Read the rest at the Edmonton Sun